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Olde Tyme Candy,
This review is from: Anita Prichard's Complete Candy Cookbook/B-119 (Hardcover)
This book starts out with a promising premise: collect treasured, old fashioned candy recipes from family recipe files and test them thoroughly with both experts and teenagers. However, the execution here was only so-so, and the result is a mediocre, but reasonably reliable cookbook that shows you how to make candy at home.
The procedures are unusually complete, and everything is thoroughly explained (at least in most cases); it is not unusual for a recipe to have a dozen or more steps. It also lists all of the tools and equipment that you will need. I find the step of sticking your fingers in boiling water to see if all of the sugar is dissolved, and then using a wet paper towel to wipe down the sides of the pot to be objectionable. Some of the forming steps are inadequately explained; a few diagrams would be helpful. It is also the only cookbook I know of that considers a barometer to be standard kitchen equipment.
The first section of no-cook recipes produces low quality candy. These are melt and form, sugary lumps that used to appear regularly at PTA bake sales. They were regularly published in women's magazines as candy making for the busy mom. The textures range from too gooey to very crumbly, and most were quite treacly. The marshmallow recipe seems to be rather odd (although I did not try it).
The next section is candy based on sugar cooked to a specific temperature: fudge, caramel, taffy, brittle, toffee, fondant, divinity, hard candy, and caramel popcorn (i.e. Cracker Jacks). The fudge chapter has a surprising number of recipes; sadly, they are variations on the same recipe. The caramel recipe is not a particularly flavorful one, but it does work as advertised.
The chapters on dipping were interesting. Two methods of dipping in chocolate are given, and both involve fingers rather than dipping tools. They were fun and very messy, but less efficient than just using a dipping fork. The instructions for tempering chocolate were unusually detailed and complete, but the home cook is still probably going to fail at this the first few times.
The book ends with some perfunctory chapters on decorating candies and some craft projects for making packaging for the candies.